Asked on Mar 22, 2013

Cabinet bowing out at top on one end

Jim H
by Jim H
I'm in a 10-year-old condo, with a long set of kitchen cabinets on one wall that's set in the corner on the right, but only has wall support on the left (where it meets the refrigerator - but doesn't go above it - see photos). The set closest to the refrigerator is tilting about two inches away from the wall at the top. It looks like some particle/composite 2 by 4 is bending (no screws or nails are pulling out of the wall - just looks like the composite wood isn't strong enough - or the cabinet wasn't attached properly to the wall at the end). Without rehanging the cabinets, was wondering if any experts had a DIY/easier fix to secure this set of cabinets.
Only this end of the cabinet is tilting at the top.
You can see the composite piece of wood that is bending - and that there's no support/or attached to the wall near this end.
  7 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Mar 23, 2013
    It looks a bit like this cabinet is failing, due to cheap design. The thin strip of wood along the top back is not robust enough to hold the whole cabinet in place. many low end cabinets have this wimpy piece of particle board which is tasked with holding up the rest of the cabinet. It look like this has pulled away from the cabinet side on that top left corner. The easiest fix would be to add some additional mounting "back" to this. I would empty the cabinet and then get some help pushing it back into place. A strip of wood would then be placed inside the cabinet just below the mounting strip. with this screwed to the wall studs the cabinet would be pushed back and a screw installed through the outside "side" of the cabinet into the end of the new strip. For even more support a double wide strip could then be installed over the original and this new strip and also secure through the side. The second layer could then also be secured from the inside of the cabinet to the right of this one. (through both cabinet sides) When I build cabinets I use full height backs, this spreads the load over the entire cabinet. not just some wimpy strip.
  • Is it the cabinet or the floor that is not level. On condo construction they span floor joists on 24 inch centers. This causes the wood between the floor joists to bow ever so slightly. When you place a long object on the floor such as a cabinet it is quite common for the cabinet to eventually bow away from the wall. Place a shim along the entire front section of the cabinet to bring it back to the wall. Then use a small anchor bolt or a few screws to hold the cabinet against the wall to prevent future movement. To verify this happening simple stand up on your toes in front of the cabinet and then drop down on your heals quickly. If the floor has bowed is is bowing this movement from you bouncing on your heals will show up with the cabinet moving back and fourth slightly.
  • James Johnston James Johnston on Mar 24, 2013
    In review ... if your goal is to pull the cabinet closer to the wall ... and assuming there is movement on the left side ... I would suggest mounting a piece of 7/16 x 3 x width of cabinet in Oak, Maple or matching wood on inside - adhere with liquid nails & finish nails and then use a hollow wall anchor toggle bolt that will be drilled through the oak, backside of the cabinet and the sheetrock. Once the bolt is through the sheetrock and you continue to tighten, the cabinet will be pulled towards the wall. If the crack where wall and cabinet does not meet, perhaps the use of a 1/2 Quarter round in matching wood and stain will help provide a more finished look.
  • If this is a tall pantry cabinet that sits on the floor get some carpenters glue between the hanging strip and the cabinet along the top, shim the bottom of the cabinet till it hits the wall and fasten with toggle bolts.
  • World Contracting LLC World Contracting LLC on Mar 24, 2013
    more info needed... do you own a level? can you place it on the wall and see where the bubble sits? now the FACE of the cabinet, and then the SIDE, then the bottom, from wall to face. If it's just the cab pulling off the wall, the wall should be plumb and the cab out. IF this is the case, follow james johnston's advice. You could also buy a cheap pocket screw jig if you want a cleaner install of the stretcher inside the cab. P.S. use care when drilling or screwing into kitchen walls, there are plumbing and electrical lines in there!
  • Hamtil Construction LLC Hamtil Construction LLC on Mar 24, 2013
    It's a result of the low grade cabinet construction, I'm afraid. A loaded cabinet will start to bow and pull away from the wall if it is not built well or secured properly. I would suggest finding all the suds available behind the cabinet (try to reach above and probe with a nail or use a stud finder). After that, as James and KMS outlined, add a new wood mounting rail inside the cabinet. While pushing the cabinet back to the wall, secure it with screws into the studs and also through the side of the cabinet into the new mounting rail.
  • Susie Moore Susie Moore on Jul 11, 2015
    If your HO A fees don't cover the fix. You should before the whole cabinet falls on you or a loved receipts for tax purposes or refund from condo owner.